Living Together More Common Than Ever

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You’ve heard the correlations between marriage and car buying before – you wouldn’t get into a long-term arrangement with something you didn’t even test drive, would you? Well, it turns out the idea of taking the relationship for a spin before committing is a lot more common than it once was … and not such a bad idea after all.

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed 22,000 men and women over the course of four years, about 40% of whom were married, says the AP. One of the statistics they found was that nearly half of first marriages end within 20 years – so what’s become the old bromide of ‘about half of marriages end in divorce’ has stayed true, at least of first marriages.

One thing that has changed quite a lot over the decades is living together without being married. These days about 60% of couples cohabitate before marrying compared to about 10% in the 1960’s.

“The study found those who were engaged and living together before the wedding were about as likely to have marriages that lasted 15 years as couples who hadn’t lived together.”

That engagement commitment did seem to make a difference in how long the relationships lasted. If a couple didn’t live together or did and were engaged they had about a 60% chance of making it for 15 years; that dropped to 53% if there was no engagement commitment. The AP says the numbers were similar for men and women.

Education – and potentially the money that goes with it – seems to make a difference, too. Another finding: “Women and men with bachelor’s degrees were more likely to delay marriage but also more likely to eventually get married and stayed married for at least 20 years,” the AP says. Bloomberg Businessweek reports on the study, which took place between 2006 and 2010, that the recession may have been a factor in people delaying marriage because of uncertain income and circumstances. Both men and women waited until they were older to marry than they had previously.

So the idea of the first marriage as the ‘trial marriage’ appears to be true in about half the cases and if that’s so, living together (with an engagement if you’re serious about trying to making it last) might be a good idea. Never having been married I wouldn’t know but it seems a lot easier to just separate your books and DVDs on your own that it does to end up having to hire (cue up Jaws theme music here) a divorce lawyer.

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